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05.24.2020 Seventh Sunday of Easter

Updated: Oct 10, 2020

“That they may know You”

'The Ascension of Christ'

- 1636 -

Rembrandt van Rijn

Birth 15 July 1606, Dutch Republic

Death 4 October 1669, Dutch Republic

“Like the sun rising from the dark depths of the earth, Jesus, the Son of the Father, rises from the tomb in radiant splendour. Jesus, in his gleaming white tunic, blazes like the sun that illuminates his obscure surroundings, showing the power of divine grace.

Jesus stands upon a cloud borne aloft by vibrant angels. In the lower register the disciples clasp their hands or fling wide their arms in enraptured awe and admiration of their Lord’s ascent.

They are illuminated by Christ’s splendid figure, his light pouring down in a gentle diagonal across the canvas, setting their faces aglow with warm tones.

Jesus’ figure is robust and firm. Facing the viewer frontally, he stretches his arms broadly, recalling his posture on the cross.

The Ascension is a mystery inseparable from the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord. In the Gospel of John, Jesus declares: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself”. In speaking thus, our Lord indicates the cross upon which he is to be lifted up in death. But, he is also pointing toward his exaltation: his resurrection, but above all, his Ascension by which he will gather all with his glory.


John 17:1-11

1 “After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

4 I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. 5 So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed’. 6 ‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you’”.


The Context

Having seen in previous Chapters how Jesus is passing on his last recommendations to the Disciples, now Jesus offers a prayer to God the Father on their behalf.

This is the so-called: “Priestly Prayer”.

This prayer is called the “Priestly Prayer” because Jesus prays as our High Priest, namely, the only One who can “enter the Sanctuary of God” (Heaven) to intercede for the disciples, who remain “in the world”.

A Prayer on behalf of the Disciples

Often, when Jesus prays, He raises his eyes to heaven. This movement towards heaven signifies his close and immediate relationship with the Father[1].

The Hour of Jesus

It is understood that nothing in life is certain, when for example a person’s birth or death will occur[2]. However, Jesus is the only one who knows that his Hour has come.

At the end of the Gospel, Saint John is going to show how Jesus will bring to fulfilment his mission on earth:

· During the Wedding at Cana, Jesus said: “Woman, why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come.”[3]

· Jesus promised his Disciples He would show them the Glory of God[4].

· This is the glory and the “authority” that was at work when Jesus performed miracles[5].

· Even while He is speaking these words, when He is about to be handed over and to die on the Cross, Jesus is able to show that through his death He is going to give the eternal life He spoke about to Nicodemus[6].

· This is the moment of the full manifestation of the Glory of God and of God’s Power as prefigured in the Transfiguration[7].

What is the Glory of God?

A person glorifies God when, like Jesus himself, s/he obeys God’s commandment of love and puts it into practice. Jesus will glorify the Father by giving up his life for his friends.

God for His part, glorifies humanity with His own presence, because the eternal life of the Trinity has been shared with humanity[8].

When we pray the ‘Our Father’ we say: “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.

The purest love of God is revealed when God’s children manifest the love of the Spirit.

Saint Irenaeus said that “the glory of God is man fully alive”[9]: “… [Jesus] revealed God to men and made him visible in many ways to prevent man from being totally separated from God and so cease to be. Life in man is the glory of God; the life of man is the vision of God. If the revelation of God through creation gives life to all who live upon the earth, much more does the manifestation of the Father through the Word give life to those who see God.

Therefore, we are able to understand the words of the Apostle Paul when he says: “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory[10].

And we remember that: “to each one [of us] the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”[11]

The Father and the Son

We easily understand that all that the Son has belongs to the Father; however, we may have more difficulty to understand what Jesus means by saying that “all the Father has belongs to Him”.

Jesus could not speak more clearly: his claim is to be one with God; yet no creature or created being can make that claim. However, Jesus is the pre-existent Son of the Father, begotten not created. Jesus is God!

A prayer for the disciple, not for the “world”

Our parents, catechists and priests have taught us from our earliest years that we should pray for the needs of the world, for the conversion of sinners, and for those who live far from God.

This prayer of Jesus: “I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me” may seem a little strange.

We know that Jesus came to save the world and all that it contains: the whole of creation. He came to redeem all people, “good” and “bad” alike. Nobody is left from the possibility of redemption. Therefore, it does not make sense that Jesus excludes anyone from heaven, because that is precisely the reason why He criticized the Pharisees (Matthew 23:13).

In the Gospel of John the word “world” has different meanings: creation, humanity, people, crowd, … but in this case, “world” means whatever is contrary to God, whatever is opposed to God. It is what we may call “evil”.

Jesus does not waste time trying to convert the devil, the evil spirits or the powers of hell but rather sends them away or rebukes them or casts them out of human beings.

The turn of the disciples to become teachers

The best reward of a teacher is to see her/his pupils reach full maturity and use profitably the knowledge entrusted to them.

The cured patient honours the doctor who cured her/him[12].

The athlete honours his trainer by winning medals.

The wo/men Jesus redeemed from sin glorify him by their new life. This is the way we can glorify God.

To be Jesus’ disciples is to have received a vocation from God

That Jesus has received his disciples from the Father, means that God Himself calls them.

This vocation is the precious pearl for which it is worth investing one’s entire life[13].


With You

By Diana Stanbridge

I am standing before my mountain and I’m ready to start the climb, as I brace myself to start the journey,

I wonder what lies ahead:

thought of turning back clouds my heart and mind,

but I’ve come too far to turn back now.

I need to know for sure: “Was it You who called my name?” Close to You I know I will be safe.

As I leave the safety of what has been

and I stride towards the great Unknown,

I will journey on to know for certain

what lies on the other side.

The question on my mind is: “Will you be with me?”

“Will you travel on this road with me?”

You will guide me through the night

and lead me through the rain.

Close to You I know I will be safe.

Oh! Guide me! Guide me through the night!

Lead me! Lead me through the rain!

Help me! Help me through the storm!

Close to You I know I will be safe.

Guide me! Guide me through the night!

Lead me! Lead me through the rain!

Help me! Help me through the storm!

Close to You I know I will be safe.


Jesus prays for his disciples, not just the twelve, but for all those who believed the word of the twelve and down the centuries up to today.

Today Jesus prays for us and we offer to God our thanksgiving for his prayer on our behalf.

The prayer of Jesus gives us the security we need in the midst of our doubts and struggles.

We are safe because Jesus is with us and He prays with us.

Pope Francis, referring to the Covid-19 Pandemic, has said recently: “This is the time to take the decisive step, to move from using and misusing nature to contemplating it. We have lost the contemplative dimension of our lives; we have to get it back at this time.”

We can contemplate Jesus praying for us.

We can also contemplate Jesus bringing humanity to its full stature as children of God as He ascends into Heaven and entrusts us with the full responsibility over our own life.

We can contemplate how our life would be if we become more docile to the Spirit of God. We ask God to make us able to contemplate our life as if we had already changed to become more whole, more holy.


[1] Mark 7:34: “Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, ‘Be opened’." Psalm 121:1: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains -where does my help come from?” [2] Eccl. 9:12: “Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them”. Mat. 6:27: “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Mat. 24: 36: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” [3] John 2:4 [4] John 1:14: “We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”. John 11: 40: “Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’” [5] John 2:18: “The Jews then responded to him, ‘What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?’” [6] John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. [7] Mark 9:2-8: “Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’. He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus”. [8] John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”. [9] St. Irenaeus was one of the most important Early Church Fathers of the 2nd century AD. His life reveals the cosmopolitan nature of the Roman Empire at the height of its power. St. Irenaeus was bishop of Lyons, in Southern France, though he appears to have grown up in Smyrna, in modern-day Turkey. There Irenaeus had personal contact with St. Polycarp, one of the Apostolic Fathers who in turn knew the Apostle John, son of Zebedee. [10] Rom. 8:14-17 [11] 1 Corinthians 12:7 [12] Last week in Barcelona a patient suffering from Covid-19 and aged 113 left hospital having recovered from the dreadful virus. Nurses and doctors were shown making two lines clapping as the old woman was being carried out of hospital on a wheelchair. Her recovery was the glory of the doctors and nurses who so acknowledged her brave character and physical strength in such advanced old age. [13] Matthew 13:46: “on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it”. Rev. 21:21: “And the twelve gates are twelve pearls, each of the gates is a single pearl, and the street of the city is pure gold, transparent as glass”.

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